The 10 Worst Seattle Suburbs For 2023

We used data and Friday Night Science to identify the worst suburbs of Seattle for 2023. The worst Seattle suburbs are Tukwila and Algona.

The suburbs of Seattle call to all types of people looking to escape city live. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Seattle to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Seattle ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Seattle area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Seattle proper, although Mercer Island certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Seattle are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..

We examined the 54 biggest suburbs of Seattle to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Washington lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Seattle in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Seattle for 2023:

  1. Tukwila
  2. Algona
  3. Fife
  4. Bremerton
  5. SeaTac
  6. Kent
  7. Tacoma
  8. Everett
  9. Sumner
  10. Auburn

What’s the worst suburb of Seattle? Tukwila ranks as the worst suburb of Seattle for 2023 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Seattle that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.

Or, if you’re thinking of moving to elsewhere in Washington check out the best places in Washington overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Seattle too.

For more Washington reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Seattle Suburbs To Live For 2023

Tukwila, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 21,545
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $71,688 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $373,200 (8th lowest)
More on Tukwila:  Data | Photos

We’ll get the ball rolling with Tukwila, the absolute worst place to live around Seattle according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Tukwila beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 6th worst in the Seattle area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 8th worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Tukwila.

You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Algona, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,271
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $78,040 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (highest)
Median Home Value: $300,000 (lowest)
More on Algona:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Algona. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 23.8 miles to Seattle. Income levels here are the 14th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $78,040 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Fife, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,869
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 7)
Median Income: $75,557 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (20th highest)
Median Home Value: $337,200 (4th lowest)
More on Fife:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Seattle suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Fife on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Seattle suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

Bremerton, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 43,345
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Income: $61,741 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $306,700 (2nd lowest)
More on Bremerton:  Data | Photos

If you live in Bremerton, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the lowest Seattle suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 10th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Seattle. Remember, we looked at 54 cities for this study.

Bremerton is about 17.9 miles to downtown.

Seatac, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,867
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Income: $73,540 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $364,400 (7th lowest)
More on Seatac:  Data | Photos

SeaTac has the distinction of being a Seattle suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, SeaTac has the 7th lowest home values in the metro Seattle area, where the median price is $364,400. To put that into perspective, in Mercer Island, the median income is $250,001, which is the best in the area.

SeaTac has an unemployment rate of 8.21% which ranks 3rd worst.

Kent, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 134,890
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Income: $79,781 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $414,200 (15th lowest)
More on Kent:  Data | Photos

Kent has 134,890 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 11.326238631328346%.

Tacoma, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 217,332
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Median Income: $69,956 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $347,100 (5th lowest)
More on Tacoma:  Data | Photos

Ah, Tacoma. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Seattle.

It’s the place with the 13th most out of work residents in the Seattle metro area (5.04%).

Everett, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 110,438
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $71,357 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (16th highest)
Median Home Value: $394,900 (13th lowest)
More on Everett:  Data | Photos

Everett is a city about 24.4 miles from Seattle, but Seattle probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Everett has the 11th most uninsured people, 5th worst incomes, and has the 16th highest unemployment rate (4.96%) in the entire Seattle metro area.

Homes only cost $394,900 for a reason. That’s cheap for Seattle standards.

Sumner, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,545
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $77,601 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (15th highest)
Median Home Value: $390,700 (11th lowest)
More on Sumner:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Seattle, then Sumner might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Seattle suburb.

About 5.0% of residents are out of work.

Auburn, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 85,306
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Income: $79,415 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $393,500 (12th lowest)
More on Auburn:  Data | Photos

Rounding out the ten worst Seattle suburbs to call home is Auburn.

Located 22.8 miles outside the city, Auburns is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 14th highest unemployment rate (5.0%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Seattle for 2023

To figure out how bad a Seattle suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Seattle.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 54 suburbs to evaluate around Seattle.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 54 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near Seattle.” We’re lookin’ at you, Tukwila.

Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2023. This is our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Seattle.

Summary: The areas around Seattle where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Seattle with Tukwila casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Seattle aren’t all bad. Mercer Island takes the cake as the best place to live around Seattle.

  • Mercer Island
  • Medina
  • Sammamish

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Seattle Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Tukwila 21,545 $71,688 $373,200
2 Algona 3,271 $78,040 $300,000
3 Fife 10,869 $75,557 $337,200
4 Bremerton 43,345 $61,741 $306,700
5 Seatac 30,867 $73,540 $364,400
6 Kent 134,890 $79,781 $414,200
7 Tacoma 217,332 $69,956 $347,100
8 Everett 110,438 $71,357 $394,900
9 Sumner 10,545 $77,601 $390,700
10 Auburn 85,306 $79,415 $393,500
11 Des Moines 32,631 $73,131 $416,500
12 Federal Way 99,792 $72,969 $384,200
13 Burien 51,646 $79,797 $459,800
14 Port Orchard 15,315 $75,766 $377,700
15 Lynnwood 38,812 $67,576 $492,600
16 Pacific 7,130 $69,095 $331,200
17 Milton 8,501 $81,690 $359,400
18 Snohomish 10,091 $77,308 $435,500
19 North Bend 7,393 $123,287 $692,800
20 Poulsbo 11,652 $79,248 $420,800
21 Renton 105,313 $84,374 $474,700
22 Monroe 19,879 $94,349 $432,600
23 Lake Stevens 35,135 $99,296 $425,500
24 University Place 34,565 $84,673 $430,500
25 Fircrest 7,109 $90,854 $406,500
26 Mountlake Terrace 21,210 $87,785 $451,900
27 Covington 20,608 $114,247 $434,500
28 Bothell 47,355 $116,578 $638,000
29 Shoreline 58,213 $95,623 $627,500
30 Edgewood 12,132 $108,492 $484,700
31 Gig Harbor 11,505 $96,192 $574,600
32 Carnation 2,219 $123,158 $560,500
33 Normandy Park 6,716 $113,328 $715,700
34 Kenmore 23,556 $121,463 $656,200
35 Edmonds 42,622 $96,775 $639,100
36 Maple Valley 27,643 $125,092 $498,100
37 Kirkland 91,656 $121,998 $805,600
38 Mukilteo 21,409 $109,738 $666,300
39 Black Diamond 5,002 $118,140 $609,200
40 Bellevue 149,365 $140,252 $951,200
41 Issaquah 39,057 $132,984 $745,100
42 Newcastle 12,855 $139,439 $888,400
43 Duvall 8,007 $168,208 $599,400
44 Brier 6,524 $132,857 $660,300
45 Woodinville 13,247 $127,689 $770,800
46 Mill Creek 20,665 $112,072 $647,800
47 Redmond 72,166 $147,006 $864,100
48 Bainbridge Island 24,557 $145,475 $852,700
49 Snoqualmie 13,718 $171,241 $681,500
50 Lake Forest Park 13,529 $139,881 $746,400
51 Clyde Hill 3,118 $250,001 $2,000,001
52 Sammamish 66,532 $195,648 $939,600
53 Medina 2,928 $208,500 $2,000,001
54 Mercer Island 25,506 $170,000 $1,504,500

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.